Thinking through Tourism

Thinking through Tourism

Thinking through Tourism

Thinking through Tourism


The study of tourism has made key contributions to the study anthropology. This volume defines the current state of the anthropology of tourism, examining political, economic, ideological and symbolic themes. An extraordinarily rich collection of case studies illustrate topics as diverse as monastic hospitality, sex and tourism, concepts of enchantment, colonial consumers, boundaries created by gender and ethnicity, as well as issues like consumerism, modernism, and nationalism. The book also covers to practical and policy issues related to urban, rural, and coastal planning and development. Thinking Through Tourism assesses the enormous potential contribution that analyses of tourism can offer to the mainstream of anthropological thinking. The volume opens up new avenues for enquiry and is an essential resource for students and scholars of anthropology, geography, tourism, sociology and related disciplines.


In this brief Foreword, at the suggestion of the editors I reflect on the dialogue I have had with the anthropology of tourism, a dialogue grounded in long-term empirical experience of the same fieldwork site for over forty years (the small Cycladic island of Anafi, just to the east of Santorini).

The Anthropologist as Tourist, Traveller and Theoretician

When I first went to carry out research in Greece in the spring of 1966, I was careful to differentiate myself from tourists and travellers in a way I now recognize to be a reaction to the threat of 'contamination' to my mission, which I saw as in some way morally superior to the search for pleasure and recreation which I assumed characterized these others. From what I have read (Errington and Gewertz 1989), this attempt to mark difference of essence and intent has been common among other researchers, as well as among academics in other disciplines ('you've come to whale-watch, but I'm a cetologist').

I was not in Greece, I told myself, to sunbathe, to read Fowles's The Magus or translations of Kazantzakis's Zorba on the beach or on the decks of interisland ferries; I was there to become a real anthropologist, to carry out participant observation, to live with local people all year round, winter as well as summer. I might look like a typical backpacker but I felt that I was different. I became aware that some of these other visitors to Greece, like myself, also saw themselves as different, but my interpretation then was that this was a rationalization of their economic position (usually coupled with age). Backpackers claimed that they were there to experience the 'real Greece', and that those who travelled in air-conditioned coaches, or had cabins with bunks rather than sleeping on deck, were missing some kind of authenticity in their encounter with places and people. The question of what constituted 'the “real” Greece', and how best to find it, gained salience for me much later; at that time I assumed that I would have access to it through long-term participant observation fieldwork.

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